IMAGE: U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
Charlie Neibergall  /  AP
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., seen speaking  during a rally, Monday, at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines, says the Libby commutation was "clearly an effort to protect the White House".
updated 7/3/2007 4:12:13 PM ET 2007-07-03T20:12:13

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton drew a distinction between President Bush's decision to commute the sentence of White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - which she has harshly criticized - and her husband's 140 pardons in his closing hours in office.

"I believe that presidential pardon authority is available to any president, and almost all president's have exercised it," Clinton said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "This (the Libby decision) was clearly an effort to protect the White House. ... There isn't any doubt now, what we know is that Libby was carrying out the implicit or explicit wishes of the vice president, or maybe the president as well, in the further effort to stifle dissent."

Libby, a former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, had been sentenced to 30 months in prison as well as two years probation and a $250,000 fine for perjury in connection with the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plane's name to reporters.

Just hours after a federal appeals court rejected Libby's appeal Bush announced his decision to commute the prison term portion of the sentence, which he labeled excessive.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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